Akagi (manga)

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Akagi
Akagi manga vol 1.png
Cover of the first manga volume
アカギ 〜闇に降り立った天才〜
GenreGambling,[1][2] mahjong[3]
Manga
Written byNobuyuki Fukumoto
Published byTakeshobo
DemographicSeinen
MagazineKindai Mahjong
Original runJune 1, 1991February 1, 2018
Volumes36 (List of volumes)
Anime television series
Tōhai Densetsu Akagi: Yami ni Maiorita Tensai
Directed byYūzō Satō
Produced byManabu Tamura
Masao Maruyama
Toshio Nakatani
Written byHideo Takayashiki
Music byHideki Taniuchi
StudioMadhouse
Original networkNippon TV
Original run October 5, 2005 March 29, 2006
Episodes26 (List of episodes)
Television drama
Directed byHitoshi Iwamoto
Mutsuru Kubota
Produced byHitoshi Iwamoto
Mutsuru Kubota
Written byMitsuru Tanabe
Original networkBS SKY PerfecTV!
Original run July 17, 2015 June 8, 2018
Episodes18
Wikipe-tan face.svg Anime and Manga portal

Akagi: Yami ni Oritatta Tensai (Japanese: アカギ 〜闇に降り立った天才〜, lit. "Akagi: The Genius Who Descended into Darkness") is a Japanese manga written and illustrated by Nobuyuki Fukumoto. First published in 1991 in Takeshobo's weekly magazine Kindai Mahjong, it is a spin-off of the author's previous work, Ten. It revolves around Shigeru Akagi, a boy who defeats yakuza members well versed in mahjong at 13. He returns to the game six years later, carrying a mythical status and still impresses his opponents.

In Japan, Akagi has sold over 12 million copies. It was adapted as two V-Cinema live action films in 1995 and 1997. A 26-episode anime television series was produced by Madhouse and broadcast on Japanese television network Nippon Television from October 2005 to March 2006. Two live-action television dramas aired on BS SKY PerfecTV! between July and September 2015 and October and November 2017, with a third series planned to air in 2018. The series has also spawned several companion books, spin-off manga, video games, and other merchandise.

Plot[edit]

The story revolves around the mahjong gambling exploits of Shigeru Akagi (赤木しげる, Akagi Shigeru). After a death-defying game of chicken one evening in 1958, Akagi nonchalantly enters a yakuza mahjong parlor to shake the police's trail. Although he is unfamiliar with the rules of mahjong, his gambling intuition saves a small-time gambler, Nangou (南郷), and grants him a seat at the gambling table. As the night progresses, the stakes are raised both within the game and for Akagi, who is under the suspicion of the local policeman, Yasuoka (安岡). However, Akagi manages to defeat Keiji Yagi (矢木圭次, Yagi Keiji)—despite Yagi's cheating during the game—and impresses the members of the gambling house.

Yasuoka arranges a new match against other yakuza members, in which Akagi defeats Ichikawa (市川), a blind professional mahjong player with very accurate hearing. After defeating him, Akagi gains mythical status at 13 but then disappears, becoming a legendary figure all over Japan. Six years later, Yasuoka orders Yukio Hirayama (平山幸雄, Hirayama Yukio) to pretend to be Akagi to impress some yakuza bosses and make money. Meanwhile, Nangou finds the real Akagi, now aged 19. Akagi, however, does not need to play with Hirayama as Hirayama is defeated by Urabe (浦部), a professional mahjong player for another yakuza group who is later defeated by Akagi.

Akagi's ultimate rival is Iwao Washizu (鷲巣巌, Washizu Iwao), an old man who has made a lot of money and become one of the most powerful people in the Japanese underworld. Having built up massive funds from shady dealings in Japan's post-war era, Washizu tempts people to bet their lives for the chance to win a large amount of money. Washizu and Akagi play mahjong in an unusual way that Washizu calls "Washizu Mahjong," in which glass tiles replace most of the tiles and make the game different in many ways.

Publication[edit]

Akagi: Yami ni Oritatta Tensai, written and illustrated by Nobuyuki Fukumoto, is a spin-off of Fukumoto's 1989 manga, Ten: Tenhōdōri no Kaidanji.[1][4] It is serialized in Takeshobo's Kindai Mahjong magazine since June 1, 1991.[5] The manga's first tankōbon (collected volume) was released by Takeshobo on April 24, 1992.[6] Some volumes—26 and 28—were published both on a regular and a special edition.[7][8][9][10] The former had a 13-year-old Akagi plush doll as a bonus[9] and the latter included a Zippo lighter in the format of a mahjong tile engraved with Akagi's and Washizu's faces.[10] Its latest volume—the 36th—was published on June 27, 2018.[11]

In February 2017, Takeshobo started to display eight different posters at 15 major railway stations on the Yamanote Line in Tokyo to announce the series planned conclusion on February 1, 2018.[3] However, the series editor said it did not mean the manga would really reach its conclusion but that it would continue irregularly. To announce it one year before the ending was in fact a marketing strategy to attract the readers who quit reading the series and those whose did not read it yet.[5] A shinsōban three-on-one edition featuring new cover illustrations started to be published on February 15, 2017,[12] and marked the start of what the editor called their one-year "grace period" as part of their tactic to attract readers.[5][13][14] The 33rd and latest volume of this edition was published on December 26, 2017.[15]

Volume list[edit]

No.Japanese release dateJapanese ISBN
1 April 24, 1992[6]ISBN 978-4-88475-574-4
2 December 9, 1992[16]ISBN 978-4-88475-620-8
3 September 29, 1993[17]ISBN 978-4-88475-673-4
4 June 27, 1994[18]ISBN 978-4-88475-723-6
5 April 17, 1995[19]ISBN 978-4-88475-799-1
6 January 27, 1996[20]ISBN 978-4-8124-5005-5
7 July 10, 1997[21]ISBN 978-4-8124-5138-0
8 April 27, 1998[22]ISBN 978-4-8124-5193-9
9 February 27, 1999[23]ISBN 978-4-8124-5281-3
10 November 27, 1999[24]ISBN 978-4-8124-5333-9
11 August 27, 2001[25]ISBN 978-4-8124-5544-9
12 January 26, 2001[26]ISBN 978-4-8124-5616-3
13 June 27, 2002[27]ISBN 978-4-8124-5670-5
14 March 27, 2003[28]ISBN 978-4-8124-5792-4
15 February 27, 2004[29]ISBN 978-4-8124-5917-1
16 September 27, 2004[30]ISBN 978-4-8124-6022-1
17 June 7, 2005[31]ISBN 978-4-8124-6187-7
18 February 27, 2006[32]ISBN 978-4-8124-6436-6
19 January 27, 2007[33]ISBN 978-4-8124-6549-3
20 July 17, 2007[34]ISBN 978-4-8124-6711-4
21 April 26, 2008[35]ISBN 978-4-8124-6820-3
22 February 17, 2009[36]ISBN 978-4-8124-7035-0
23 October 5, 2009[37]ISBN 978-4-8124-7165-4
24 June 11, 2010[38]ISBN 978-4-8124-7287-3
25 July 27, 2011[39]ISBN 978-4-8124-7640-6
26 July 17, 2012[7]ISBN 978-4-8124-7931-5
27 July 17, 2013[40]ISBN 978-4-8124-8344-2
28 December 10, 2013[8]ISBN 978-4-8124-8469-2
29 March 2, 2015[41]ISBN 978-4-8019-5202-7
30 August 1, 2015[42]ISBN 978-4-8019-5335-2
31 May 16, 2016[43]ISBN 978-4-8019-5521-9
32 September 26, 2016[44]ISBN 978-4-8019-5636-0
33 December 15, 2016[45]ISBN 978-4-8019-5704-6
34 April 15, 2017[46]ISBN 978-4-8019-5908-8
35 November 1, 2017[47]ISBN 978-4-8019-6094-7
36 June 27, 2018[11]ISBN 978-4-8019-6308-5

Related books and spin-offs[edit]

Several related books and spin-off manga have been released. A series of three books titled Akagi Akuma no Senjutsu (アカギ悪魔の戦術) were released between May 17, 1999, and January 27, 2001.[48][49] An anthology written by several other manga artists, including CLAMP, Shinobu Kaitani and Mikio Igarashi, was released on July 27, 2011.[50] An Akagi-themed mahjong introduction guide was released on two parts on July 27, 2011, and July 17, 2013.[51][52] A character book was released on July 17, 2012,[53] and an anthology compiling dōjinshi written at 2013 Comiket was released by Broccoli Books.[54] Several crossovers between Akagi and Ten[55][56] as well as between Akagi and Hero, another series by Fukumoto, have also been published by Takeshobo.[57]

Washizu: Enma no Tōhai (ワシズ -閻魔の闘牌-), a spin-off manga written by Keiichirō Hara focusing on Iwao Washizu, was serialized in Monthly Kindai Mahjong Original starting on June 28, 2008.[58] The series spawned eight volumes released between February 17, 2009, and January 26, 2013.[59] Washizu: Enma no Tōhai was also published as two "B6 Series" released on October 27, 2012, and January 17, 2013.[60][61] A one-shot on Washizu was also drawn by CLAMP for Monthly Kindai Mahjong Original and released on August 8, 2008.[58] On November 8, 2012, Monthly Kindai Mahjong Original published the first chapter of Washizu: Tenka Sōsei Tōhai Roku (ワシズ 天下創世闘牌録),[62] and it moved to the magazine Kindai Manga in May 2014.[63] The series, that explores the past of Washizu, concluded as the fourth volume was released on May 15, 2015.[64]

Anime adaptation[edit]

Madhouse adapted the manga into an anime television series titled Tōhai Densetsu Akagi: Yami ni Maiorita Tensai (闘牌伝説アカギ 闇に舞い降りた天才, lit. "Mahjong Legend Akagi: The Genius Who Descended Into the Darkness"). It was co-produced by Nippon Television (NTV), VAP and Forecast, and directed by Yūzō Satō.[65] The Akagi anime premiered in Japan on NTV on October 5, 2005, and ran for 26 episodes until its conclusion on March 29, 2006.[66] In September 2013, streaming service Crunchyroll announced the licensing of the anime in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbeans, and South and Central America.[67] The six first episodes were available in these countries from September 10, 2013, with five more episodes streamed every week there after.[67]

VAP compiled the series and released it as two DVD box sets on March 24, and May 24, 2006.[68] Several types of tie-ins merchandise were released,[69] such as an official guidebook published by Takeshobo on March 29, 2006[70] and an official soundtrack album composed by Hideki Taniuchi released on January 25, 2006.[65][71] Produced by VAP,[71] the soundtrack featured 35 tracks[71] including the anime's opening theme, "Nantoka Nare" (何とかなれ) by Furuido, and its two ending themes, "Akagi" by Maximum the Hormone and "S.T.S." by The Animals.[72]

Related media[edit]

V-Cinema[edit]

Kenzō Maihara directed two V-Cinema films adaptations of Akagi starring Takashi Kashiwabara: Tōhai Den Akagi (闘牌伝アカギ), released November 11, 1995,[73] and Suzume Ma Akagi (雀魔アカギ), released July 25, 1997.[74] Takeshobo rereleased both films in DVD format on January 27, 2006.[75][76] A video game based on the first film was released by Micronet for PlayStation on January 19, 1996.[77]

Video games[edit]

Warashi adapted Akagi into a PlayStation 2 game released by D3 Publisher on December 12, 2002.[78][79] It was rereleased as part of the budget-priced "Simple series" on October 14, 2004.[80] In 2006, Taito Corporation released two mobile games based on the anime.[81][82] Two video games based on the anime series were developed by Culture Brain and published by Nintendo. The first, a Game Boy Advance game, was released on March 3, 2006,[83] and the second, for Nintendo DS, was released on August 9, 2007.[84] Fujishoji released a pachislot machine in 2008,[85] which was adapted by Sunsoft into a mobile version released in 2009.[86] Okumura Yuuki released its first pachinko machine in 2008,[87] which was followed by another in 2012.[88] A smartphone game was developed by Imagineer and made available from March 5, 2014,[89] while Gloops released a social network game for Mobage on August 1 of the same year.[90]

Drama[edit]

Masahiko Tsugawa plays Akagi's main rival, Washizu, in the live-action television adaptations

A Japanese television drama version that adapts the manga starting from its eighth volume was directed and produced by Hitoshi Iwamoto and Mutsuru Kubota, and written by Mitsuru Tanabe.[91][92] A ten-episode series was broadcast from July 17, 2015 to September 18, 2015 on the channel BS SKY PerfecTV!.[91][93] Kanata Hongou and Masahiko Tsugawa play Akagi and Washizu respectively, while its theme song, "Don't Be Afraid," is performed by Shōnan no Kaze.[94] Crunchyroll licensed the drama for streaming it in about 150 countries.[92] Pony Canyon released the series into a DVD box on March 2, 2016.[95]

A five-episode sequel, Akagi: Ryūzaki–Yagi-hen / Ichikawa-hen (アカギ「竜崎・矢木編 /市川編」, lit. "Akagi 'Ryūzaki–Yagi Arc' / 'Ichikawa Arc'"), was broadcast on the same channel from October 13, 2017 to November 10, 2017.[96][97][98] The same staff and cast announced the production of a three-episode sequel titled Akagi: Washizu Mahjong Kanketsu-hen (アカギ~鷲巣麻雀完結編~, lit. "Akagi: Washizu Mahjong Concluding Chapter").[99] Shōnan no Kaze announced a different theme song, "Kokushimusō" (国士無双), for the second sequel.[100] The latter started on May 25, 2018, and ended on June 8, 2018.[100][101] A DVD box containing this two latter series was released on August 17, 2018 by Pony Canyon.[102]

Reception[edit]

Public response[edit]

As of 2017, the Akagi manga had over 12 million copies in circulation worldwide.[3] Individual volumes have been featured in Oricon's weekly charts of best-selling manga in 2009,[103] 2010,[104] 2011,[105] 2013,[106] 2015,[107] and 2016.[108] The series has a cult following,[4] and has aroused interest for mahjong in the West,[109] especially in Russia, where it "ignited a boom".[110] Nevertheless, Akagi has been surpassed in popularity by Fukumoto's other work, Kaiji.[2]

Critical response[edit]

English-language reviewers have analysed the anime adaptation more than the manga. David Cabrera of Otaku USA called Akagi a "nihilistic badass," highlighting how he can "psychologically dismantle a man."[109] Both John Oppliger of AnimeNation and Anime News Network's Michael Toole compared it to Kaiji.[4][2] Oppliger, however, stated that Kaiji relies on deus ex machina events but Akagi is based on "skilled gamesmanship."[2] He opined that the series is "engrossing and addicting because of its smart, suspenseful writing."[2] Toole found it reminiscent of a period piece due to the 1950–60's setting, calling it a "cool series" because of this. He also declared that "Akagi isn't about whether or not the title character will win—he will definitely win. It's about the joy of seeing how he wins, about observing a young man who seriously does not give a fuck relentlessly picking off bad guy after bad guy."[4]

Bradley Meek wrote for THEM Anime Reviews how it differed from traditional sports anime, describing it as a "hard-boiled, grimy" anime in which "there's a tangible sense of danger". However, he was most critical of it, concluding that "it has an appealing package, but not a lot of entertainment value." His critics were directed towards the fact that one layperson cannot understand the jargon of the mahjong matches; that Akagi is an unrelatable character as he makes no mistakes; and that the Washizu arc was "contrived, long" and "does not get a satisfying conclusion".[111] UK Anime Network's Elliot Page argued mahjong's understanding was not necessary, as the entertainment is not provided by the mahjong itself, but by the character's attitudes, and highlighted how the narrator provides further tension on the events. Page praised the uncommon animation style that, "while not amazing by any metric, are tuned to be highly expressive, dragging you into the action and the intensity of the moment". He also criticized the last arc as it compromised the series pacing and does not end, but concluded, "arguably this isn't very important in the grand scheme - as ... the main joy of the series is watching the mind games on display as the opponents try and mentally dismantle each other, which it does still deliver in spades".[112]

References[edit]

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